Source of solvent that killed potentially hundreds of fish in Coquitlam creek unclear: city

Click to play video: 'Coquitlam officials can’t find source of fish-killing spill'
Coquitlam officials can’t find source of fish-killing spill
After a solvent spilled killed countless small fry in Coquitlam's Booth Creek Saturday, city crews have not been able to find the source of the contamination. Jasmine Bala reports. – Jun 13, 2022

Officials with the City of Coquitlam say they don’t know who put a suspected solvent into Booth Creek, killing potentially hundreds of fish fry.

People who live near the creek at Myrnam Street first noticed the dead fish and a strong odour Saturday evening.

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Anenette Boulanger told Global News the fish in the creek had been fine when she visited the area around noon the same day.

“There was some kind of spill, it killed them that fast,” she said. “It makes me feel sick.”

Locals called the city, which deployed firefighters and the engineering department’s 24-hour response team.

Coquitlam director of utilities Jonathan Helmus said crews put booms and absorbent pads into the creek to soak up the pollutant, and returned on Sunday to replace them. Most of the pollutant was gone, he said.

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Click to play video: 'Dozens of dead salmon fry spotted in Metro Vancouver stream'
Dozens of dead salmon fry spotted in Metro Vancouver stream

But he said despite investigating the area at Myrnam Street and upstream in the creek, crews were unable to find a source of the spill.

If crews had been able to identify an offender, he said, they could be liable for a $500 city fine and potentially further penalties from the province, including the cost of remediation.

“Our creeks are important, and the animals and fish that live in our creeks are important to us, and this is hurting them,” he said.

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Helmus said firefighters also reported dead fish at the site, but that the city didn’t have a clear estimate on how many may have been killed.

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Boulanger said she believes the number to be at least in the hundreds. She said as recently as fall 2020, the creek had seen a record salmon return.

“It was quite a triumph for the reconditioning of the lakes. We were watching them grow up, little babies hatch. That’s actually a really big deal,” she said.

“You can’t eat salmon at a fancy restaurant if they don’t get past babies.”

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